The Burrup Peninsula rock library in Western Australia holds the oldest known carved image of a human face.

“Murujuga is a stride in the footsteps of human history”

  • 45,000 years before a Sumerian text, Egyptian Hieroglyph or Tablets were carved.
  • 38,000 years before any carvings found at Gobekli Tepe.
  • Largest Petroglyph site in the world.
  • Over a million rocks carved, stretched over 100 kilometers.
  • The oldest known carved image of a human face

“This unique and special place must be protected”

The Sacred Site

The Burrup Peninsula is an island off the Dampier Archipelago, in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Murujuga, known to the original people, is part of Ngarluma Country, along with the member groups Yinjibarndi, Yaburara, Mardudhunera and Wong-Goo-Tt-Oo who make up the Murujuga Corporation. Their ancestors  have been carving their stories on the rocks and working with stone for tens of thousands of years. There are standing stones, middens, Artefact scatters and more found at Murujuga.

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Rock carvings containing many different images, some are of animals and tracks, maps, extinct megafauna and images of the Tasmanian tiger now extinct to the area. A major find being the oldest known carved depiction of a human face in the world. There are over a million motifs carved across 100 kilometers on the Burrup Peninsula. The largest known petroglpyh site in the world.

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Like the many other rock art sites across Australia, the uniqueness in this library is the fact that aboriginal people are still here today to tell us the story. Some of the carvings are of ancestral beings still related to the lore the people today. Standing stones are a part fish management and agriculture. The cultural connection aboriginal people still have to the area, makes the stories told at the largest Petroglyph site in the world much more ‘alive’. Murujuga is a special and sacred place that demands world protection. “A stride in the footsteps of human history”

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“This is a bible that’s been left for the Aboriginal people” ( Wong-Goo-Tt-Oo Aboriginal elder Wilfred Hicks featured in The Sydney Morning Herald)

Potential Damage and Neglect

Right on the doorstep of this special and sacred place are the threatening Industrial emissions creating Gas and Ammonia factories. Findings have suggested that the Murujuga Art could be destroyed within this century. Only recently have some taken the time to look into the real protection of this unique archive of recorded human history.

Ammonium nitrate plant.

In 2018 Australia, it is fair to say that Preserving Australian History still seems to be one of priority and value ‘only’ if it occurred within the last 230 years, not one of human history. The lack of concern and effort until recently to even look at having this sacred place of human significance listed as a world heritage site, demonstrates the view and value Murujuga and other significant Indigenous sites hold in Australia.

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The Significance 

The recordings left behind by the ancestors at the Murujuga rock library depict two distinct periods in human history, showing occupation through 50,000 years of environmental change:

The Dates

  1. Aboriginal Australians were already settled and living in the Murujuga area 50,000 years ago [Recent findings show that Original Australians were already living in Coastal Western Australia, Central and South Australia 50,000 years ago, as far as the Flinders Ranges]
  2. Aboriginal people still occupied the area 30,000-18,000 years ago, during the last Ice age, and when the coastline was over 150 km further out. The Murujuga ancestors have left evidence of their presence all the way through the end of the Pleistocene.

Stories carved in stone

  • Egyptian Hieroglyphics and Sumerian Text date back roughly 5000 years.
  • The new find at Gobekli Tepe dates back just over 11,000 years ago.
  • Rock carving dates and distinct periods at Murujuga stand out in significance compared to other known text and spiritual recordings found in modern humans history.
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Early Sumerian carvings
Hieroglypics depicting images of a bull’s head on a short pole followed by two back-to-back saddlebill storks with a bald ibis.
Early Egyptian Carvings

Murujuga

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Since the most ancient times in human history, aboriginal Australians have been recording story and history right across Australia. More recent recordings found in Pilbara petroglpyhs depict the arrival of Europeans to Australia. This style of European character Depiction in rock art can also been found elsewhere across Australia.

Stone carvings found at Gobekili Tepe have now been said to confirm a comet strike to the earth 11,000 years ago. The Original people of Murujuga still being here adds more detail and strength in the meaning of the story being told about these ancient carvings. A person giving their interpretation on a culture they have no connection to, or do not really know about is not quiet the same.

Aboriginal Australians have more the 100,000 rock art sites across Australia, more than anywhere in the world. The stories recorded at these sacred sites have explained many events of the earth’s history. Findings of two volcanic eruptions that took place roughly 7000 and 10,000 years ago in Australia has now proven aboriginal oral history and story true, The findings show us how aboriginal people have passed on knowledge for 230 generations.

Acknowledgement to the Murujuga Corporation, Ngarluma Country, along with the member groups Yinjibarndi, Yaburara, Mardudhunera and Wong-Goo-Tt-Oo.

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Further Sources

Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation – http://www.murujuga.org.au/

https://www.nationaltrust.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/20060920-Dampier-Rock-Art-ROE35.pdf

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0277379117308752

https://www.griffith.edu.au/research/impact/rock-art

https://www.australiangeographic.com.au/topics/science-environment/2018/08/why-the-rock-art-of-murujuga-deserves-world-heritage-status/

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/271079233_Study_of_the_Outstanding_Universal_Values_of_The_Dampier_Archipelago_Site_Western_Australia

https://theconversation.com/cave-dig-shows-the-earliest-australians-enjoyed-a-coastal-lifestyle-77326

https://www.australiangeographic.com.au/topics/history-culture/2016/09/how-oral-cultures-memorise-so-much-information/

 

 

 

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